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The Torch Festival is a traditional festival of the Yi People. It is usually celebrated on the 24th of the 6th lunar month each year. Shilin is Yi's most representative place, and each year there are tens of thousands of people participating in Shilin's torch festival.
At the night of the Torch Festival, each Yi's hillside village sets up a ten-meter high big torch, surrounded by each family's small torches symbolising unity. Dressed up in festival costumes, people sing and dance around the torches, all the day and night long. At the Torch Festival, all men and women, elders and youngsters are required to attend all the festive activities. Men's acitivities mainly include wrestling, ox's fighting, etc. Women's major activities are singing and dancing. The Torch Festival is a good opportunity for Yi's youth to find a love through singing and dancing. The youngsters communicate with each other, get acquainted and then start their love stories. The festive highlight happens in the evening. People hold burning torches, tour along their houses and field paths, and sing loudly. Torches are lined up, forming several 'fire dragons' and lighting the dark sky. This moment's view is really impressive and wonderful.
There is a legendary story about the Torch Festival among Yi people. It was said that their was a devil named Shidali in the ancient time, who always deteriorated people's happy lives. Its bad behavior angered a strongman whose name was Baochong. Shidali and Baochong chose wrestling to contend. They fought for three days and three nights but none of them could win. The locals came to encourage the strongman, by percussing their three-stringed instruments, blowing short flutes, clapping hands and stamping feet. The devil Shidali was finally defeated but became annoyed. It sent various kinds of harmful insects to destroy the local's plants which had been planted through the locals' hardworking. The locals re-gathered and lit up torches to burn the harmful insects. Until the 24th day of the 6th lunar month, all harmful insects were eventually burned dead. In order to memorise this victorious day, each year when this day was approaching, people would cook beef and mutton and hold the Torch Festival with various kinds of activities. The festival reflects Yi people's struggling spirits for not fearing brutal conqueror and yearning for happy lives.
BIG-THREE-STRINGED SONG AND DANCE
The Big Three-stringed is San (a branch of Yi) and Axi people¡¯s particular musical instrument. The diameter of the vocal tube is about 30 centimeters. The sound produced from this instrument is like a drum in a battlefield or like a fierce tiger¡¯s low roaring. Matched with loud flute music and accompanied by Sani girls¡¯ swift and beautiful three-step dance, the emothional and unrestrained melody produced form the Big Three-stringed instrument could stimulate sitting audience, to willingly stand up and dance by following the musical tunes.
Sani People. Sani is a part of the Yi tribe, its people mainly reside in Shilin and Guishan area enjoying the nature-bestowed pleasant climate and picture-like landscape. With the wisdom endowed from the power of nature, Sani people have constructed their homeland into the most beautiful and prosperous one with their diligent hands and talents. Sani belongs to an ancient tribe. They have their own spoken and written language, colorful and bright ethnic costumes, and old and simple ethnic folklore. Sani¡¯s glorious culture has already become well-known both at home and abroad, and is like a bright pearl in the family of the world culture.
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